Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Superbug Infection Lawsuits and Dangers

Superbug Dangers Rise, U.S. Fails at Tracking the Spread

As reports from news sources like the Los Angeles Times and Reuters proliferate, the full extent of America’s superbug scourge is beginning to surface, and the truth isn’t just disturbing — it’s terrifying. Though health authorities have been warning about deadly drug-resistant infections for over 15 years, a widespread practice among doctors and hospitals that can only be seen as active concealment has hidden the breadth of the crisis, while at the same time hindering efforts to make a dent in the situation. The situation is only worsened by government agencies remain that are either unwilling or unable to impose reporting requirements on a healthcare industry complicit in the problem.

As Reuters notes after a depth investigation, “infection-related deaths are going uncounted, hindering the nation’s ability to fight a scourge that exacts a significant human and financial toll.” A recent article describes entire wards of newborn infants through which superbug bacteria rage, infants whose tragic deaths are attributed to “consequences of prematurity.” With attendant death certificates bereft of even a whisper of the actual infection that caused the devastation. As Reuters further observes, “Even when recorded, tens of thousands of deaths from drug-resistant infections – as well as many more infections that sicken but don’t kill people – go uncounted because federal and state agencies are doing a poor job of tracking them.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … and state health departments lack the political, legal and financial wherewithal to impose rigorous surveillance.

In the wake of their loved ones’ deaths, families report heroic battles just to get the lethal infections cited on their death certificates, only to see the deaths effectively uncounted as state and federal authorities fail to track the losses traceable to antibiotic-resistant infections. To highlight the vast disconnect between reported superbug infections and the real numbers, Reuters estimated (based on CDC figures) that for the 3,300 such infections reported between 2003 and 2014, there were over 180,000 actual cases — almost 55 times as many cases as were reported. And the problem — and the count, of both infections and deaths — is getting worse every year.

“As America learned in the battle against HIV/AIDS, beating back a dangerous infectious disease requires an accurate count that shows where and when infections and deaths are occurring and who is most at risk. Doing so allows public health agencies to quickly allocate money and manpower where they are needed. But the United States hasn’t taken the basic steps needed to track drug-resistant infections,” notes Reuters. And these infections include the carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) family of pathogens that the CDC has deemed an “urgent threat” after gaining notoriety when more than 200 people were sickened through the contaminated medical scopes in hospitals from 2012 to 2015 that are the subject of recent lawsuits brought by Lieff Cabraser on behalf of surviving family members of the contamination’s victims.

Read the full Reuters story on superbug infection lawsuits and dangers. You can also read the Los Angeles Times story on antibiotic-resistant infections.

Contact a Lieff Cabraser Personal Injury Attorney

Lieff Cabraser has successfully represented thousands of patients across America injured by defective and dangerous medical devices. We currently represent patients who developed “Superbug” CRE infections after undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), as well as the families of patients who died as a result of such infections.

If you or a family member developed CRE following an endoscopic procedure, please contact an experienced injury lawyer at Lieff Cabraser to discuss your case. You can also call us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358 and ask to speak to injury attorney Lexi Hazam or Wendy Fleishman. There is no charge or obligation for our review, and your information will be held in the strictest confidence.